The relationship between Pat and Cy Taillon was stormy at best. Both were self-centered individuals, accustomed to the attention and admiration of others. Cy Taillon, gifted with a voice that could move crowds, was well suited to the career of a rodeo announcer. Pat Montgomery, a beauty with a mind of her own, left home at an early age to dance in vaudeville and quickly became the toast of St. Louis.
When the two met, their mutual attraction was evident, and they were married within a short time. Pat gave up her career to follow Cy on the rodeo circuit.
The Taillons lived hard, with wild nights spent drinking and carousing with cowboys. Life, however, became more complicated upon the birth of their daughter, Cyra. Almost from the start, she was an unwanted and neglected child.
Cy became an alcoholic and gambler, leaving his family for days on end, while Pat continued her relationships with other men. Whenever the couple reunited, arguments and physical abuse resulted. Divorce became inevitable.
Cyra moved with her mother to Missoula, Montana, where Pat married a close friend of Cy’s, Roy Qualley, something of a flunkey. Cy also remarried, gave up drinking, and eventually gained a national reputation as a rodeo announcer.
Life in the Qualley household was restrictive, and Cyra longed to be back with her father on the rodeo circuit. Cy, however, wanted little to do with her. They did not reconcile their differences until shortly before his death in 1980.
This is a compelling and poignant memoir of family life and a vivid, idiosyncratic portrait of the modern American West; McFadden’s admirers will find plenty of her deadpan humor here.